The same right wing hysteria President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder (who announced his retirement yesterday) face on a daily basis from the Tea Party is the same vicious, paranoid hysteria that the Kennedys faced from the ultra-right John Birch Society of the 1960s. The only difference are the racist undertones that America’s first black President and Attorney General are subjected to on a daily basis and a continuous stream of propaganda from right wing media outlets like Fox News and talk radio. Since the emergence of the Tea Party, President Obama has been a target of hate-filled narratives that included but not limited to, an anti-white conspiracy being perpetrated by America’s first black President, or Obama sympathizes with Muslim terrorists, or Obama is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Obama was born in Kenya. Attorney General Eric Holder was called “dangerous” and accused of “running the DOJ like the Black Panthers would” by a Fox News host.
Racism aside, the Birchers and Tea Party are also similarly bankrolled by a wealthy family for the sake of the power of that family. Billionaire industrialist Fred Koch not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he was also a founding member of the John Birch Society. The same John Birch Society that helped engineer attacks on labor, public education, liberal clergy members, and elements of society they viewed as a threat or part of some insidious “global communist conspiracy”- the same conspiratorial nonsense you hear on today’s RW talk radio programs.The opposition to both Kennedy and Obama from the right-wing fringe has never been based on reasonable opposition but based on irrational fear. For example, back in the 60’s, the Birchers were certain that under Kennedy a Marxist takeover of government was imminent. Again, this is the same extremist conspiratorial nonsense that you can hear today on any radio station on AM conservative talk radio. Haroldson L.Hunt, a Texas millionaire and Bircher warned of the consequences of President Kennedy’s support for Medicare: “The plan provides a near little package of sweeping dictatorial power over medicine and the healing arts—a package which would literally make the President of the United States a medical czar with potential life or death power over every man woman and child in the country. Medicare would lead to dictatorship, and death panels.” That sounds a lot like the same Tea Party claim that the Affordable Care Act will lead to dictatorship and death panels.
Tea Party/Birchers today believe that “commies” are Americans who don’t believe in tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the middle class, who don’t believe in cutting food stamps for the poor and our vets, who don’t believe in cutting safety nets like Social Security and Medicare, who believe in civil rights and fairness under our laws for everyone, or who believe women should have access to healthcare coverage that includes birth control. The Bircher/Tea Party brand of opposition for the past 50 years views any policy that helps the poor and middle class as ‘communist’ or “unamerican” and the remedy is the same. Spend obscene amounts of money sponsoring candidates and running ads that spread the paranoid fantasies like illegal aliens will steal your jobs or kill you.
Indeed, today’s Republican Party, that has been taken over by Birchers/Tea Party Patriots, has nothing in common with the party of Lincoln, or the Grand Old Party. They remain a party of far-right extremists bankrolled by wealthy businessmen intent on protecting the prosperous but not looking out for the interests of all Americans. But even money in politics has its limits. This isn’t the 60’s anymore and although the conservatives want to cling to a nostalgic past when men were men and women got paid less because they were wives and mothers, America’s social views, traditions, demographics, and cultures have changed. The country is moving forward whether the Birchers, Tea Partiers, and Kochs want it to or not. Over the long run freedom, equality, and progress for all will rule the day and there’s not much they can do about it.